Life might be too short to bet the under. However, if you're betting them into NFL totals, your quality of life has vastly improved. Unders have hit early and often, going 7-4-2 in Week 6 with all seven unders cashing in during the first nine games. The average total closed at 47.8 points and will likely surpass the second-highest mark of the season after tonight's matchup between the Bills and Titans. The expected higher-scoring games didn't deliver for bettors. There were four games lined in the 50s, with Dallas and New England the only one that went over the total.
There was still plenty of action for fans to get excited about. Nine teams scored 30+ points, with Buffalo likely to become the 10th this evening. Team scoring across the board fell in line with this season's average of 23.8 points per game, which tells us the abundance of games falling under was a result of the individual matchups on the field. The key is identifying factors that can cause high-scoring teams to fail to reach the combined point total. It's all starts with the quarterback position.
This week I targeted two of the league's top QBs who are paired against struggling offenses. Here's why I think Kyler Murray and Tom Brady are great bets to lead their teams to big victories, but most importantly stay under the point total.
Houston at Arizona (Under 47)
Kyler Murray continued his MVP-caliber season by decimating a Browns defense that ranked in the top five in both defensive success rate and yards per play allowed. His four TDs propelled the Cardinals offense to 30+ points for the fifth time this season. As a huge double-digit favorite, there is very little suspense in regards to the expected scoring output from Arizona. They should easily get to 30 points in the game.
It's not a question of whether the Cardinals have the ability to carry the total. It's a matter of whether there will be a need to. The Arizona offense buries teams before halftime by averaging a league-leading 18.6 points in the first half. We could see the Texans trailing by three touchdowns early, and with Murray nursing his shoulder both teams could become very unmotivated for the duration of the game.
Even if Tyrod Taylor returns from injury, any initial spark will wear off quickly when his defense gets outclassed and the game becomes out of reach. Houston has landed in single digits in three of their last four games. I have a hard time banking on them to score more than twice against the league's only 6-0 team. The Cardinals defense sacked Baker Mayfield five times, so I am sure they will have their way with Houston's offensive line. Arizona's explosive offense is only 3-3 to the over this season. A 34-10 Cardinals victory gets us a winning ticket.
Chicago at Tampa Bay (Under 47)
Here is another game with blowout potential where I don't think the inferior team can do enough offensively to push this game over. Even Justin Fields can't overcome Matt Nagy's abysmal offense that has only been good for 16.3 points per game. Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles is known for bringing relentless pressure, which is a nightmare for any rookie quarterback. Nagy's offense doesn't ask Fields to push the ball down the field enough to take advantage of Tampa Bay's biggest weakness — its secondary.
The Bucs offense carries enough firepower to put up 40 by themselves, but don't underestimate the Bears defense here. Chicago held Green Bay to 24 points and a 25% third-down conversion rate in a losing effort on Sunday. They are also top 10 in EPA/Play allowed and held the Raiders to only nine points just two weeks ago.
In Tampa Bay's Thursday night victory over Philadelphia, they dialed up a heavy dose of Leonard Fournette after building a big lead. His 22 carries helped keep the game under the total, and I'm putting my money on this game playing out in a similar fashion.